There's only one thing you need to know to banish clutter forever. No, it’s not that tiny fairies that come out at night to plant money trees, cobble your shoes, and clean up the day’s mess.
It’s not an endless supply of child labor. It’s not harsh rules and complex systems of organization. It’s not ClosetMaid or California Closets or $150 per hour professional life organizers.
All you need to know to magically clear all the clutter and mess from your house?
Get rid of it.
That’s it! Just get rid of it. Say it with me ... Get rid of it, ruthlessly and without sentimentality.
Avoiding clutter doesn’t have to be hard or painful. It’s really easy. Decide you aren’t going to tolerate it anymore. Pass the message on to everyone in the family.
Don’t make it into a big production. You have three choices: put it away, donate it, or throw it out.
All the catalogs you’ve been saving to go through? Recycle them. Now. You don’t need them and you sure don’t need them in that pile that starts on the kitchen table then moves to the desk and back again. Every day when you bring the mail it, cull ruthlessly. Bills to be paid go in your desk, personal mail goes to the recipient, everything else gets recycled. Don’t even let it in the house.
The closet mess? Clothes either get put away, in the laundry, or donated. Same with toys and books, DVDs, and video games. Follow that old rule: if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. (I actually shorten that. Unless something is a collectible, if I haven’t used it in six months, it gets donated.)
Junk drawers in the kitchen? I bet if you dumped yours in the trash, you would never ever miss a single thing. The instant you feel tempted to sweep something into that drawer, sweep it into either the garbage or the place it really belongs. You’ll find it will take you about a minute to put something where it belongs, instead of that drawer -- or pile, or wherever.
Garage and attic? Don’t even think about it. Cars, bikes, and lawnmowers go in garages, not endless boxes of crap. Christmas decorations go in the attic, not box after box of the winter clothes you brought with you when you moved to Florida from Chicago. The box of tchotchkes Great Aunt Flo gave you just before she died? Come on. You know you don’t need or want those. Get rid of them, and keep the memories instead.
Start getting rid of your clutter however you can. You’ll be surprised at how addictive it is. Before you know it, your house will be decluttered, clean and you’ll be able to maintain it.
Image via Blind Grasshopper/Flickr